I watched Minimalism this morning on Netflix. It’s definitely a movement that is growing in leaps and bounds. It is a wonderful and much needed movement. That and tiny houses. May we leave this age of consumerism and sprawl, amen!
I live on a nice street but behind me is a street that has a few houses that seem very troubled. One of the things that make the homes so distressed and filthy looking is the clutter. The clutter of cars and old furniture in the front, side and back yards. I can only imagine what the insides look like. There is one home in particular that belongs to a woman who is a mass hoarder. She has piles of clothes and junk on her porch piled to the beams. She is, not surprisingly, severely depressed and spends most of her time in bed. If she could only have that ah ha moment, that epiphany and begin to clear out the garbage that is packed into her house. She would need dumpsters for sure and then a team to clean intensely. But if she made the choice and did this step by day by step by moment, as she cleared it all out she would feel all that depression begin to lift from her soul and as she cleaned and scrubbed she would work through her emotional turmoil and cleanse her mind.
Cleaning and decluttering has an amazing healing effect that I cannot intellectualize. Downsizing one’s life, stuff, and schedules creates such an internal peace. Changing to a life that is simpler is a life that becomes full with real life living.
I did some downsizing today myself. I don’t turn down hand me downs and because of that, we have some wonderful things in our home that I see as gifts and the Universe showing that abundance is everywhere. Now and then I take some of those gifts and pass them on to others. We have a small house and I need breathing room in here. I also like to have a home that feels cozy yet spacious, a home that has a flow and is also easy and quick to clean. The less we have the easier it is to keep it in order and move on to fun things like going out and exploring woods and other neighborhoods. Or reading, writing a novel, putting together legos, watching documentaries.
Life is only a certain length of time here on earth. I still debate whether we reincarnate or not. I know most Christians say no but the bible promises ever lasting life. Wouldn’t reincarnation explain that? Who knows and that is for another blog but in the mean time let’s say we only get one trip here, what will you do with it? How will you bring meaning, fullness, pleasure, and love to this here and now? When you are on your death bed what do you want to recall? Cleaning, shopping, being over scheduled, over stressed, working long nights and weekends, living on social media while the world around you is awakening? Or…
If you create a life that is simple, debt free, uncluttered, you create a life that is free of burdens, stress, and depression. How is that? And what is this minimalist life all about? Do we have to get rid of everything but our tooth brush and go live in the forest in hand made sheds? Do we live off roots and berries? Do we go underground only having contact with the world through a post office box we check monthly when we come off the hill where we live with the deer and raccoons?
The good news is that you can live among humans, you don’t have to live in a tiny house the size of a shoe box or downsize to 3 sweaters and one pair of jeans. There are so many books out there and blogs, documentaries and articles to explain just how to create this lifestyle but the truth is that you can do it any way you like and to the extreme or not so extreme as you like. No matter how you do it and how extensively…you will reap the benefits. And then as time goes on and life is feeling better and you are feeling better, you will go another step and another until you know that things are just right and perfect for you.
Minimalism is about not being a nutty consumer, basically. It’s about being content with what you have and where you are, who you are on the way to where ever you find contentment. It’s about doing some serious down sizing to just what you truly need and no more…and things that really bring you joy. It’s about not having more than you need, a house that is larger than you need, and going out to shop for more stuff that you eventually won’t need or want. It is about getting rid of the “stuff” so you can find what truly fulfills you. And it ain’t stuff.
So, how do you start? What is the process of morphing into a minimalist? Start downsizing and decluttering until you get down to the stuff you really need and enjoy. You can get books at the library about this or get on Netflix and watch Minimalist. That is a start. Explore it first and see if it sounds like a solution to what ails you. This book is also good to get inspired.
I am not a minimalist as of yet and probably won’t win any awards in that culture but I’m a wanna be with a pretty simple life. We have downsized considerably and I’d like to do more but I have a husband impeding that forward movement toward true freedom.
Our story is that we once rented a 3 bedroom and 2 bath house with 2 living rooms. We only used a part of all the 2,000 square feet. One day I read an article on downsizing and shortly after we moved to town into a 2 bedroom/1 bath house that was 860 square feet (this is the very short version to a long story). We gave away half a house and half a yard, truck loads of furniture and outside play things. I decluttered down to the really good stuff and it felt so cleansing and wonderful. I had less than half a house to clean now and our rent and utilities went down, down, down. We could also walk everywhere and save on gas and our carbon foot print. We now own a home that was a fixer upper and is also small according to the average American home. It is only 1,100 square feet and 2 bedroom/1 bath with 4 of us, two large dogs and a cat. It is perfect. Enough space to breath but nothing is wasted. We live in every inch of this house.
Would I describe ourselves as minimalist? Not really, but we are very sustainable and simple and so we are cousins to minimalist. We are now down to just what we need and love and we are not consumers. I want to be sometimes. I get the consumerism mentality and I get the penny-pinching mentality and after years of living both ways, I see that you have to balance both or you are either in debt or living with a poverty mindset and not living at all. I just watched Extreme Penny Pinching on Netflix also and I think that gets sort of weird at some point. That is not minimalism, it’s just being cheap at some point and greedy.
Buy quality and not quantity. Put your money to good use supporting small and good business. Buy things that are hand crafted and will last. Make sure your money goes in positive directions like fair trade and organic farming. We want to stop consuming mindlessly and be wise with our money…and enjoy it, circulate it to serve others and the earth.
For me, minimalism or the beginnings of it would be learning to live in a cleaner and more peaceful way. To live in rhythm with nature and the seasons. You can do this in the country and in the city. You downsize to what you need, you get out of debt, begin using your money with your attention to detail, learn the art of trade and borrow, and quiet your mind and life as much as possible.
For me, that means my cell phone is used only for our trips out of the house and a camera, literally. I don’t watch the news, don’t talk on the phone much, TV is a treat. I do love music, there is lots of that. I continually declutter and give my things to others that can use it and enjoy my stuff. My calendar is clear, I rarely schedule anything. The boys and I get up each day and see what we feel like doing that day. We do have routines, that is our anchor. I do set goals and work hard at my writing career but the rest of our life is easy going.
Minimalism is attractive to me because the less stuff you have the less you have to clean and organize. However, I do love my things. I like a house with charm in the lush plants and rugs, colorful pillows on the couch, a hutch filled with good books, and scented candles in each room. I delight in this for my nest. And that is really all we have now. I just have to figure out how to downsize the boy’s stuff. They are NOT minimalist and have no desire for this.
Whatever you choose to do to improve your life, have fun, play with it, do what feels comfortable. There is no right way.